O’Leary was speaking in the context of the Nama decision to reject Dublin GAA’s bid to purchase the Spawell complex on the south side of the county.
Ex-Dublin selector O’Leary suggested that Nama had a great opportunity to do something positive for sport generally, regardless of Dublin’s involvement, but knocked back the chance.
The state body reportedly refused Dublin’s offer for the €6.5m 35-acre facility in Templeogue.
The sprawling site would have been an ideal location for a GAA centre of excellence, which officials feel is badly needed in the capital and, potentially, a 25,000 capacity stadium.
A mid-range capacity stadium would solve another big problem for Dublin who have outgrown Parnell Park with its 10,000 capacity but find Croke Park too big for almost all of their games.
“I think it is inevitable that we need to expand to have something that’s between Croke Park and Parnell Park and can cater for a crowd double the size of Parnell,” said O’Leary.
“Then you can get your home league games out of Croke Park and maybe some of your championship games too. I’d be interested to see it.
“Fundamentally, it doesn’t matter where it is. If it’s a decent size and has pretty good access to it, that’s the issue. It could then become an emotional attraction to kids that they would aspire to play in it, whatever part of the city it is in. I think it would become an emotional part of Dublin GAA in the city.”
As for Nama, the former Wicklow manager and ex-Dubs selector was critical of their rejection of the Spawell offer.
“Yeah, you would be critical of them,” he said. “Obviously nobody knows the full story from looking in from the outside. There has been lots of opportunities generally for the likes of Nama or people who had a property portfolio to do something for the sports community.
“That’s the context I’d be coming from, from a sporting angle for the town itself. Because there are lots of sports crying out for facilities.
“From a community point of view, it is a pity NAMA couldn’t do something like that, something that would be part of the Dublin culture.”
Dublin’s recent Leinster football championship clash with Longford was an ideal tie for a midrange capacity stadium to host.
“In fairness, it’s mostly other counties who want to play Dublin in Croke Park,” said O’Leary. “For Jim Gavin and previous Dublin managers, the big challenge has been to get a tough game that’s not in Croke Park because you can become flat and you can become soft if you’re playing all your games in there.”